College students everywhere are wondering if they will be returning to their campuses for the 2020 fall semester. Most universities and colleges across the globe seek to open back up normally, but ultimately the coronavirus pandemic will be the deciding factor. No one can say exactly what’s going to happen next regarding COVID-19, and the coming months will decide whether it’s safe or not for everyone, not just college students, to resume normal activities.
The California State University System has announced that they plan to cancel all in-person classes in the fall and continue the online instruction they implemented at the end of the 2020 spring semester. They’re still considering a mixed approach for classes that may contain some student instruction in campus classrooms, but their decision isn’t expected until mid-June. When the California State University System Chancellor Timothy White was asked about the system’s reasoning for their fall semester plan, White said, "First and foremost is the health, safety and welfare of our students, faculty and staff, and the evolving data surrounding the progression of COVID-19 -- current and as forecast throughout the 2020-21 academic year." Students that may receive exceptions from the online instruction would include nursing students who require clinical training to stay on track with their healthcare degree and students that require equipment to complete their courses. Students participating in research have still been allowed to participate in person, albeit under very strict safety procedures and with personal protective equipment. The system is doing their best to make sure students are getting the education they pay for, while trying to keep them safe.
The University of Alabama, the University of North Carolina System, Texas Tech University, the University of Tennessee, the University of Louisiana system, and Maryland’s Morgan State University are examples of some universities and systems planning to have on-campus classes in the fall. Last month, the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education unanimously voted in favor of a plan to return students to in-person instruction on campus in the fall. A decision for the University of Missouri System, which includes the University of Missouri (Mizzou), the University of Missouri - Kansas City, the University of Missouri - St. Louis, and Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T), has yet to be made. UM System President, Mun Choi, has said that the system plans on reopening the campuses in the fall, but they won’t be making a final decision until later in the summer. They’re still having their professors prepare online material for students in the fall. If the UM System fully opens in the fall, the campus experience may be slightly different than students are used to with the implementation of social distancing and other safety measures.
Ultimately, no decision regarding a return to normal operations of universities in the fall is set in stone. As circumstances unfold with the coronavirus pandemic, university officials may change their plans to keep their students and faculty safe and healthy. While many students are frustrated with missing out on another semester of an in-person college experience, it is vital to keep in mind that universities are making split second decisions to benefit everyone as a whole in a tough circumstance no one saw coming.
Article By Alyssa Crum
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